The Effects of Goal Difficulty on Physiological Arousal, Cognition, and Task Performance

Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol 77, Issue 5, 1992

University of Alberta School of Business Research Paper No. 2013-466

Posted: 28 May 2013  

Ian R. Gellatly

University of Alberta - Department of Strategic Management and Organization

John P. Meyer

University of Western Ontario

Date Written: Oct 1, 1991

Abstract

Conducted 2 laboratory experiments with 117 undergraduates to examine (1) the effect of assigned goal difficulty on arousal (self-report and heart rate), cognition (perceived norm, self-efficacy strength, and personal goal), and behavioral (task performance) measures and (2) the role of heart rate as a mediator of the goal-difficulty-performance relation. All Ss performed a task requiring cognitive and physical responses. Results of both experiments demonstrate that assigned goal difficulty affected heart rate, cognition, and task performance and that heart rate change was positively related to the cognitive and behavioral measures. Regression analyses suggested that a cognitive-affective mechanism may mediate the goal-difficulty-performance relation. Discussion is focused on the theoretical and practical implications of integrating an arousal concept within goal-setting theory. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

Suggested Citation

Gellatly, Ian R. and Meyer, John P., The Effects of Goal Difficulty on Physiological Arousal, Cognition, and Task Performance (Oct 1, 1991). Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol 77, Issue 5, 1992 ; University of Alberta School of Business Research Paper No. 2013-466. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2270832

Ian R. Gellatly (Contact Author)

University of Alberta - Department of Strategic Management and Organization ( email )

Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2R6
Canada

John P. Meyer

University of Western Ontario ( email )

1151 Richmond Street
Suite 2
London, Ontario N6A 5B8
Canada

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